Founder and Festival Director
“The best Chinese language playwright and director in the world” (BBC); “Asia’s top theatre director” (Asiaweek); “One of the most celebrated Chinese-language playwrights and directors” (New York Times); “Asia’s flagship playwright” (China Daily). Beijing News calls his The Village(2008) “the pinnacle of our era of theatre.” The New York Times calls Lai’s Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land (1986) “the most popular contemporary play in China.” China Daily calls his epic eight-hour A Dream Like A Dream (2000) “the most elaborate theater work in Chinese history” and “possibly the greatest Chinese-language play since time immemorial.” His 36 original plays to date have greatly influenced theatre in the Chinese language theatre and have helped create a large base for young theatre audiences in China.
Lai is Creative Director of Performance Workshop, one of the leading theatre groups in the Chinese world. In 2015 Lai opened Theatre Above in Shanghai, dedicated to the performance of his works.
Lai is also an award-winning filmmaker, alternative television comedy creator, opera director (Dream of the Red Chamber for the San Francisco Opera), and event director (Deaflympics Opening Ceremony, 2009). His awards include twice receiving Taiwan’s highest award for the arts, China Newsweek’s Man of the Year for Culture, the Caligari Prize at the Berlin Film Festival, the Silver Sakura at the Tokyo International Film Festival, the Golden Horse Award, and Taiwan’s highest civilian honor, the Grand Cordon, Order of the Brilliant Star. Lai holds a Ph.D. in Dramatic Art from the University of California, Berkeley, and has taught extensively at the Taipei National University of the Arts, and at Berkeley and Stanford. His book on creative theory (Stan Lai on Creativity, in Chinese) is a best seller in China and Taiwan. Ten of his plays will be published in English this year in the United States. New works this year include the original plays The Hidden Treasure, Nightwalk in the Chinese Garden (world premiere in Los Angeles, USA), and his direction of Cao Yu’s classic Peking Man.
In 2013, Lai co-founded the Wuzhen Theatre Festival with Chen Xianghong, Huang Lei and Meng Jinghui.